President Jacob Zuma is at the centre of questionable behaviour that is dogging South Africa and ruining the name of the African National Congress, party veteran Cheryl Carolus said on Thursday.
“Our president has brought shame on to our organisation and to our country for his own personal indiscretions and blatant actions of corruption and collusion with forces who do not care about our people and our country,”Carolus said on behalf of other veterans and top government officials, including Frank Chikane.
“I am pained about recent events; I am pained by the state of the movement. It’s painful,” said Chikane.
The briefing in Pretoria followed the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report on Wednesday, after an attempt by Zuma to keep it under wraps by saying he had not had a chance to answer questions Madonsela may have had.
Madonsela released a transcript and timeline of the attempts she made to get Zuma’s input but was stalled by his lawyers who said it was too short notice to say, for example, how he came to the decision to fire former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.
Carolus said that they, like the rest of South Africa, are shocked by recent events and attempts to address them discreetly and behind closed doors had failed.
They did not accept that they should go to a branch and put their complaints in writing.
Speaking at the risk of being disciplined for bringing the party into disrepute, Carolus said it was not just the details of the Public Protector’s report that worried them.
“Our president has in fact surrounded himself with some people of very questionable origin and behaviour,”she said.
“But the president and those around him have also successfully marginalised anyone with decency, and who acts in defence of the values of the African National Congress.”
Zuma had abused state power and resources and delayed people such as the Public Protector, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and former Hawks head Anwa Dramat, from doing their jobs.
Carolus said hundreds, “if not thousands”, of smart young people were being hounded because they refuse to be “captured”.
“The tone for this shameless hounding of good men and women, unfortunately, is set at the top, very consciously by our own president and those around him,” she said.